Stab-resistant body armour is now becoming a standard item of equipment for police officers in the United Kingdom. In the UK these are usually required to have a stab resistance as specified by the Police Scientific Development Branch KR42 standard [G. Parker, PSDB Stab Resistant Body Armour Test Procedure, Police Scientific Development Branch, Publication No 10/93, 1993]. There are several other test standards, all of which specify that body armour must resist penetration by a specific blade type delivered at a specific energy level or range of levels. However, the actual range of energy levels specified varies over almost an order of magnitude and the basis for these levels is not clearly defined. This paper describes tests to determine the energy range and characteristics of stabbing actions that might be directed against stab resistant body armour by an assailant. The energy and velocity that can be achieved in stabbing actions has been determined for a number of sample populations. Volunteers were asked to stab a target using an instrumented knife that measured the axial force and acceleration during the stabbing. The maximum energy obtained in underarm stabbing actions was 64 J whilst overarm stabbing actions could produce 115 J. The loads produced on contact with the target often approached 1000 N.
Keywords: Stabbing; Body armour; Impact; Knife